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March 21, 2011

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Hi Lenn, we'd like to know how Billsboro responded. Thanks. Kim & Vinny

Love this idea and can't wait to hear what you come up with. My husband and I visited 150 wineries in 150 days last year while we researched our Virginia winery travel guide App, and I sent out advance emails whenever we had a complicated itinerary that required multiple overnights and long distances. My emails were to confirm that they'd be open, what their hours were, and that I had their correct address. I did not tell them we were doing research for an App (I wanted the typical visitor's experience when we visited).

I'd estimate that 75% of the wineries got back to us with two to three days. Many had friendly words of encouragement. I was impressed.

Looking forward to seeing how New York does!

A nice project! I sent a few NY wineries questions and (polite) complaints about the use of synthetic stoppers and the poor aging ability of the resulting wines. In response I received everything from a long, carefully considered mea culpa to, well, nothing. I hope your findings have some impact on the way producers respond. Now, if we could only get them to pay more attention to the content and updating of their websites....

Love this experiment. I can't wait to see the results. I am curious how the Michigan wineries would do with this?

Love this idea -- genius. Can't wait to read the results!

Lenn and NYCR team - Great idea. I look forward to reading the results. No doubt several wineries are clinching their cheeks after reading this post. :) Will be interesting if one region was notably separated either way - quick, positive responses versus no responses.

Clearly this should be done here in Virginia.

Cheers bro!

I respect this effort because these vineyards need this feedback. I am not in the industry, but, being enthusiastic about NY Wine, I have probably joined 15 wine clubs, mostly LI based. big disparity between good and bass website strategies, like more businesses in America.

takes courage to do this. kudos.

Kim: More than happy to send our findings to you and Vinny!

Everyone else: Thank you very much for the enthusiasm. There have been some emails flying in the background as well and they make me want to clarify a few things.

We didn't do this to "get" anyone. This isn't a witch hunt and we'd never publish the results in a malicious way.

We understand that many of New York's wineries are closed this time of year and/or are staffed not enough people with more than enough other work to get done. And, this is just a single email during a single week in the off season -- this is not intended to be a definitive study.

It's a mere snapshot to get a general sense for how well New York wineries are paying attention to their general email addresses.

Times are challenging. Wine promotion groups and wine trails are losing funding. Responding to an email from an already-interested potential customer is free, except for a little time and attention.

The results of this project, which will be published on Monday, are disappointing. New York wineries can and should do better -- but we're not going to publish a list of the wineries that didn't respond to the emails. Instead, we're going to give some region-by-region metrics and share examples of some of the best responses.

Sneaky. I love it!

Well, now that I read this I understand why I never got a reply/response from "Brian Sedgwick". Usually when I send out an e-mail to inquiring potential customers I receive back a thank you email.

I had a few customers on the morning that the email was sent out and was not able to respond to "Brian" until almost 3 on that same afternoon. I sent an e-mail to Brian telling him which wineries I recommenced, explained the tasting fee structure at Heron Hill, gave him 5 great restaurants in/on/around the lake and asked him to stop by and let me know how his trip was going.

I was kinda sad that i never got to meet "Brian"....but now I understand why!

You know, you're right -- when we do this again, we should thank those that write back.

That's good feedback.

Respectively, I find this to be a waste of energy. The wine industry is an industry full of artisans and farmers doubling as small business owners, and most people visit to learn about their wines, understand their progress over time, see the beautiful land, meet cool people, experience the romance, and perhaps get a bit tipsy. What happens if a winery gets bad grades in the highly anticipated Sedgwick Report . . . the winery gets that feedback, hopefully someone doesn't lose their job, and they go back to making wine and continuing to be understaffed having every employee contribute to whatever task is needing to be done. Personally, if they didn't respond to my email promptly, I would deal with that but would never blacklist them and only go to the good responders wineries. In fact, I would probably find it quirky and expected from a bunch of artisans and farmers. Therefore, I see no use in this effort or the resulting info. The well-staffed helpdesks and web teams you're perhaps looking for are at the larger companies that are fracking the land and trying to get wine sold in grocery stores.

WynOmite: Thanks for the comment. I'm sure that there is a portion of the population -- both in the industry and outside it -- that agree with you that this was a big waste of time.

I happen to disagree, obviously, and I think I've made my case -- and will detail it a bit more next week.

A couple things now though. First, we will absolutely not be publishing a "blacklist." We've heard from some people -- jokingly or not -- afraid for their jobs and we'd never take that chance. I don't think it contributes to the discourse to list the names anyway.

Secondly, you won't find out this information because we're not publishing names, but you're absolutely incorrect with your assertion that the larger wineries are more likely to respond while the farmer-driven wineries are not. I can tell you for certain that some of the more prompt, best responses came from some of the state's smallest producers. And some of the wineries that didn't respond at all are some of the larger, better-staffed and more technologically advanced ones.

Thanks again for the comment and perhaps you can add to the discussion next week when we publish the results.

Hey Lenn,

I'd be interested in seeing any feedback you haveabout Sheldrake. Thanks!

Dave Breeden

This is a great test for the NYWGF and the validity of their involvement in NY wines. Love it.

I'd be interested in seeing how Arrowhead Spring replied.... We have had some major system changes here - spring is "upgrade time", though that should not have affected responses to inquiries.

Hi Lenn,
could you share with me how McGregor Vineyard fared?
Thanks much,
John

We strive to always respond to every customer email promptly, and almost always reply the same day. When I questioned my staff about an email from "Brian Sedgwick", nobody remembered responding. I have also not been able to find an email from "Brian Sedgwick" in our email system.

I'm wondering, did you collect any information on how many emails were actually delivered and/or opened by the recipients? This would be a critical piece of information in interpreting the results of your exercise.

What method did you use to send the emails? (Individually sent, bcc, bulk email system?). Many people who send emails to their opt-in mailing lists would consider an open rate of 25% pretty good. After all, a good number of emails sent this way end up being filtered out and never make it to their destination. Considering that, a ~50% same day response rate to your email might actually have been pretty good.

I am feeling conflicted. On the one hand,I do hope that the email to [email protected] (the address at NYW&GF, and the recipient address of our contact form) arrived to our inbox, indicating that our email system is functioning properly with every email. On the other hand, if we did receive it, we may have dropped the ball.

Perhaps you could share Mr. Sedgwick's email address and some additional metrics about your email send methods, delivery, bounce and open rates so that we might more effectively search for Mr. Sedgwick's email and better determine which the case may be.

Thanks.

FYI, "FLWine" is David Whiting, co-owner and winemaker at Red Newt Cellars on Seneca Lake. After his comment, he and I exchanged a series of emails.

The results aren't definitive, but it's entirely possible that Red Newt did not receive the email. We did have ONE email sent out that failed, but were unable to ascertain which it was. We obviously have no way to confirm whether the email was received or not.

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